Modern music festivals: A branded experience

There was something liberating about music festivals of the 1960s and 70s.  They were predominately about music, love and various social (and often anti-commercial) causes.

Fast forward to 2012 and the modern music festival has evolved to become a different experience.  There is still music, but many festivals have increasingly become branded experiences as companies compete to connect with and engage an increasingly fickle and distracted young marketplace.

Festival goers at the recent Splendour in the Grass in Byron Bay Australia were able to shop at Sass and Bide, Quicksilver, in between having a Grill’d Burger and a drink at the Smirnoff Cocktail Lounge or the Jagermeister Hunting Lodge.

Splendour In The Grass: peace, love and brands

Is this commercialisation and ‘branding’ of music festivals a good or a bad thing?  And what does it mean for both companies and consumers?

Corporate sponsorships and commercial partnerships can help promote up-and-coming festivals with the spill over effect of publicizing new acts.  The NME “Generation Next” tour is a good example of this.  Many acts would not gain this level of exposure without a strong commercial promoter.

Corporate sponsorships can also make established festivals more affordable by offsetting the high costs of paying artists, venue and equipment hire, insurances and staffing etc.  It would be extremely hard to fund major festivals like Glastonbury and Coachella without significant financial support from corporate partners.

However, over commercialisation and excessive branding may have a negative effect on the ongoing viability of music festivals.

Many consumers go to festivals for a break from work or study and to enjoy music, friends whilst indulging in various recreational vices.

What’s more, after paying well over $500.00 for tickets, accommodation and transport to a festival, most consumers won’t be able to afford to indulge in a $600.00 Sass and Bide skirt.  And will get annoyed at being repeatedly asked.

It is also about congruence with the event.  Put simply does your brand “belong” and have a right to be at the festival?  Most would agree that the Jagermeister Hunting Lodge had a greater sense of belonging at Splendour in the Grass than the Sass and Bide retail outlet.

Consumers will accept and even embrace a small to moderate level of commercialisation, but if it goes overboard, companies can expect attendance at festivals to decline and engagement with their brand to decrease.

Consumers won’t pay exorbitant festival prices to go to a shopping mall with musicians.

// Alec Schumann

About AnthonySchumann
Subtle Bravado // Creative Boutique. Ted Anthony - Vision Alec Schumann - Creative Follow @AnthonySchumann

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